Turkish president vows to 'destroy traitors'
15 July 2017 world-news
Turkey’s president has vowed to continue his controversial purges of “traitors” and will “destroy” them, a year on from the failed coup.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also praised the unarmed civilians who faced down the bloody attempt to oust him in 2016.
He has addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters at a rally in Istanbul, marking the anniversary of the 15 July attempted coup.
Flag-waving crowds gathered at the foot of the Bosphorus Bridge – now renamed Martyr’s Bridge – the location where crowds confronted soldiers and tanks.
“They showed no mercy when they pointed their guns at my people,” President Erdogan said.
“What did my people have? They had their flags – just as they do today – and something much more important: They had their faith.”
The rally also saw the unveiling of a monument to the 250 people killed defying the coup, and their names were read out from the stage one by one.
President Erdogan is due to address the parliament in the capital Ankara on Sunday morning, marking the moment a year ago that the building was bombed by fighter jets while MPs were still in the debating chamber.
He is expected to praise the MPs who were there that night, and to insist that despite the current state of emergency – which has enabled the government to rule by decree – that rule of law in Turkey remains in place.
But his critics, both inside and outside Turkey, deny this is the case, claiming Mr Erdogan is using the state of emergency introduced after the coup to target all opposition, and suppress freedom of expression.
More than 50,000 people have been arrested since the failed coup – including journalists and human rights workers alongside military and police.
Another 150,000 state workers – including a quarter of the country’s judges – have been dismissed from their positions.
On Friday, a further 7,000 police staff, civil servants and academics were suspended.
Speaking on the rally stage in Istanbul, President Erdogan gave no indication that an end to the purges was in sight.
He claimed he would “destroy” the “traitors” and claimed the infiltration of the institutions of state by those who plotted the coup has taken place over many years.
“Nobody who betrays this nation can remain unpunished”, he said.
At a convening of parliament earlier on Saturday, the leader of the opposition Republican Party (CHP), condemned the attempted coup, but accused the president of undermining democracy in the 12 months that have followed.
“This parliament, which withstood bombs, has been rendered obsolete and its authority removed,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
“In the past year, justice has been destroyed. Instead of rapid normalisation, a permanent state of emergency has been implemented.”
Last week hundreds of thousands gathered in Istanbul at the culmination of Mr Kilicdaroglu’s “justice march” from Ankara to Istanbul, which called for the state of emergency to be ended, and for fair trials for those accused of involvement in the coup.